Eric Ross is a 23 year old 201cm forward that is playing his rookie season with TSV Crailsheim Merlins 2nd team (Germany-Regionalliga). He had a very busy college basketball career as he played at four schools in four years at Blinn JC (JUCO) playing 25 games averaging 4.6ppg, 6.8rpg, at Triton JC (JUCO) playing 29 games averaging 7.2ppg, 9.1rpg, FGP: 47.3%, FT: 47.3%, at S.Connecticut (NCAA2) playing 26 games averaging 3.5ppg, 4.0rpg and at Shorter (NCAA2) playing 25 games averaging 9.7ppg, 12.4rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 60.9%, FT: 36.1%. He is averagig 15,7ppg, 14,6rpg 1,3apg, 1,5spg and 1,4bpg and spoke to German Hoops earlier in the season about basketball after signing with Crailsheim 2.
Eric thanks for talking to German Hoops. You are from Chicago Illinois and playing your professional basketball career in Germany with the Crailsheim 2 team. Have you witnessed some culture shock or did the smaller places you visited while playing at many schools help ease the big city feeling of Chicago?
Yes coming from Shorter university it made me adjust to being in little towns so I’m used to it.
How excited are you to be starting your professional career in Germany with the Crrailsheim Merlins 2. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it´s basketball?
I’m really excited to be playing professional basketball. I always dreamed of doing it one day, and god finally blessed me with an opportunity. Also I actually don’t know nothing about Germany, This being my first time ever leaving the United States, but I’m up for the new experience.
You come from a NCAA 2 school Shorter. How was your first summer transfer period for you? Did you experience it as a tough process or were you able to choose from various offers?
It was tough but I got a lot of help from my old coaches and played in some showcases for exposure so everything fell in place.
You will be playing in the German Regionalliga which is the fourth division at the professional level in Germany. What was key for you to make this step and what gave you the green light for signing with this club?
The key for me was to get my foot in the door and make a statement. All my life I was put at the bottom and I always found my way to the top so once this door was open I took it.
You had to rediscover and prove yourself all over again playing at four different schools and now your starting all over again at the professional level. Do you at times feel like your living the ultimate basketball Cinderella story?
Sometimes I do, I love a challenge it makes the story better. I just take it as a new beginning to prove another point to the world.
You stepped it up as a senior at Shorter playing 25 games averaging 9.7ppg, 12.4rpg, 1.1bpg, FGP: 60.9%, FT: 36.1%. You will make an impact at this level. What are your personal goals on the court besides wanting to win every game?
My personal goals is to do 2x better than I did last year, I will have a way better Ft % and lead my team to the championship.
Let´s talk about your game. You’re a beast down low as you averaged double figures stats in scoring and rebounding. If you had to compare your game to a NBA player which player would come closest?
I would say I get compared to “Kenneth Faried” because of my rebounding and my motor on the court.
You most likely will score even more this season and possibly get more rebounds. What other strengths do you have in your game that you will showcase this season?
This season I will showcase my mid-range shooting ability more often.
You’re a guy who can fill up the stat sheet and get physical down low but what is a hidden strength in your game that doesn´t always get noticed right away on the court?
I would say my mid-range shooting ability and driving off the dribble
I know about the famous British dart player Phil Taylor, but also learned about Phil Taylor the basketball player who averaged a crazy 33,0ppg at Shorter. Taylor said of you “He makes me look good, so I try to reward him as much as I can to make him look good as well. How do you feel did you profit from his game as a senior?
I would say yes I did, but most of my scoring came off offensive rebounds.
Taylor also stated about you. ““I love having him out there. Last year we had a great team, but we were missing that dog down low. [Ross] may not be the most talented offensive guy, but that dude plays so hard every single play. Does that ambition to play hard every play come from you never having it easy in your career and always having to prove yourself?
Yes it did, I always had the mindset of “I don’t care how talented you are, but you will never out work me” and ever since then that been my motto.
You saw Taylor hit for 50 plus points back to back and saw many other great scoring games from him, but what memory from his game will you never forget?
Taylor is a great friend of mine, but I will never forget how that guy can draw a foul, like one game he made 27points from free throws, that’s how good he is at getting a defender in foul trouble.
What was your most memorable game at Shorter? Possibly your 12 point 18 rebound effort in the 117-111 win against N Alabama or was there another?
I Would say that game but it’s many more I would add to that too, kind of hard to choose.
How did head coach Tyler Murray give you that last important kick in helping you get groomed and prepared best for a professional career in your last season at Shorter?
Coach Tyler is awesome, he’s been in my corner ever since I walked into shorter doors. I told him my dreams on what I want to do after college and he said he would try everything in his power to get me there, I just have to meet him half way. Now look at me playing professional basketball, it’s a blessing.
You played your first two years of school basketball at Blinn JC (JUCO) and Triton JC (JUCO) where you didn´t get much of a chance to show what you can do except at the later where you almost averaged 10 rebounds a game. Were you more a classical late bloomer or simply overlooked?
I wouldn’t say that but it was just a learning and development process, it just took time for me to get my skills better and execute them.
You played at S.Connecticut (NCAA2) as a junior playing 26 games averaging 3.5ppg, 4.0rpg. Were you a bit discouraged going through this experience. Once again you didn´t play much. Was your confidence damaged by this year and how confident were you going to Shorter?
That year was a major challenge for me, it was so much going on on and off the court, I even started to think on giving up on basketball but my old coaches at Triton motivated me to keep pushing things that things will get better. But once I got to Shorter university I knew I had one year left to make up for the last year and made a big statement.
Despite playing only a season at S.Connecticut (NCAA2) did you have fond memories of head coach ex NBA player and Uconn legend Scott Burrell. The forward spots were pretty crowded that year so could you understand that he didn´t have an easy time finding playing time for all?
I would say I have good and bad memories playing for Scott Burrell, but like I said I’m a fighter. I turn my mistakes into a lesson learn and come even harder. Also the forward spots weren´t that crowded but that’s not the reason he didn’t play me, it was other reasons I rather not speak up about.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Austin Carter?
Austin Carter one of my close friends, but of course me lol
Who was the toughest player you battled in the states in high school or college time that is in the NBA or in Europe now?
I would say my home boy Cliff Alexander he’s in the NBA right now playing for New Orleans, a born dog in the post.
Lebron James failed to win his fourth NBA title and is still three away from Michael Jordan. Where does Lebron stand right now in your opinion in the never ending debate of who is the best of all-time?
He is still one of the top three best players in basketball history.
There has been criticism of Russell Westbrook to be focusing more on rebounding to help inflate his stats and possibilities of getting triple doubles instead of focusing on his defensive assignments. Do you feel that this is a fair assessment to the player Russell Westbrook?
I agree with that but Westbrook is an animal all over there court.
How do you summarize the 2017 NBA Draft. What sleepers do you see playing a role in the NBA?
I think Jayson Tatum will be a problem on the court for other teams.
Where will the journey of the Houston Rockets go this season with Chris Paul and James Harden in the back court. Do they have enough to make a serious run at the title or is something missing?
I think them guys would definitely make it to the playoffs but I doubt it if they win a championship ring.
How do you rate the Kyrie Irving-Isaiah Thomas trade? Who got the better deal and which team will profit better in the long run?
For sure the Celtics got the better deal, Kyrie is unstoppable.
What was the last movie that you saw?
Thanks Eric for the chat.